scruta

Either you are sorting it out, or you are full of it.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Li and Zhou: Applied Theater

Li

Ha!

Zhou

What?

Li

Here’s a good one!

Zhou

What?

Li

Oh, man. This is crazy. I have no idea how they thought they could print this.

Zhou

What the hell is it?

Li

Okay, so there’s a theater guy, a young guy from America. He’s here on a Fulbright.

Zhou

Oh, a Fulbright, he must be very smart.

Li

Yes, very smart. A Fulbright.

Zhou

Wow. A Fulbright! Where did he go to school?

Li

Yale.

Zhou

Yale! Wow!

Li

Yes.

Zhou

Wow. Yale.

Li

Anyway, he’s in China. He studies theater and Chinese. He does a new kind of theater.

Zhou

A new kind of theater?

Li

Yeah. It’s called applied theater. I’ve been reading about it. It’s not so new in the West.

Zhou

What is it?

Li

Basically, you make the audience into actors.

Zhou

Oh. Well, what’s so bad about that?

Li

The idea is that you explore social or political issues by getting the audience involved in particularly difficult situations.

Zhou

Political issues?

Li

Yeah. This guy went to northern Yunnan near Tibet and did a workshop with Tibetan and Han residents.

Zhou

Oh no.

Li

Yes. He presented them with a scene where a Han man got in fight with a Tibetan man and his girlfriend. The audience came in and took the roles and tried to resolve the situation.

Zhou

Well, did they resolve it?

Li

Of course not. A teacher had to make a speech about harmony.

Zhou

Really? He had to give the harmony speech?

Li

Yeah.

Zhou

Wow.

Li

And they wanted to print this story.

Zhou

Ha. Wow.

Li

Yeah.

Zhou

But Li-

Li

Yeah?

Zhou

He has a Fulbright. He went to Yale. Why is he doing this?

Li

I don’t know.

Zhou

Yale.

Li

Yeah, Yale.

posted by ferret at 1:48 pm  

Friday, January 6, 2012

Li and Zhou: Invisible

Li

It’s weird.

Zhou

What’s that?

Li

I get this feeling sometimes.

Zhou

Like what?

Li

Like I’m invisible. Like I could stop doing my job and nothing would matter.

Zhou

That’s crazy! Don’t you know how important our job is? We work in the propaganda department! We are the protectors of Chinese culture, don’t you know we’re under attack?

Li

No. I know, I know. But that’s it. The whole idea is that we’re just the people behind the scenes, the one who delete the words so they are never read. I look back at my life and I think, where is my work? It’s invisible.

Zhou

It’s noble.

Li

Is nobility being faceless? Nameless? Lost in the heap? In fact, not even lost at all. Like you were never there to begin with.

Zhou

Hmm.

Li

Do you think it will change?

Zhou

What will change?

Li

Nothing… nevermind.

posted by ferret at 9:21 pm  

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Li and Zhou: An Unfortunate Incident

[It's the afternoon. Li is working away alone in his office. Zhou walks in. He has a white bandage across the bridge of his nose. His left eye is swollen a bit, and it looks as if he will have a black eye. Li stands up immediately in shock.]

Li

Zhou! What happened?

Zhou

I don’t want to talk about it.

Li

Okay. Well, do you need anything?

Zhou

No.

Li

Okay.

[Li watches Zhou as he walks to his desk and sits down. He pauses for a moment, sighs and then speaks:]

Zhou

I was buying perfume for my wife.

Li

Okay.

Zhou

There’s this shop she likes near Wangfujing. I thought I’d go after lunch.

Li

RIght.

Zhou

I bought the one that she likes and I started walking back towards work and I had to walk by all of those goddamned policemen standing there.

Li

There are a lot of them. I mean, you know-

Zhou

Of course, I know! It’s just hard to get around it all. So I was walking, and then somebody jostled me pretty hard and I dropped the bag of perfume.

Li

And then?

Zhou

The damn thing shattered, and I told the guy that I was sorry. The guy was pissed, but he eventually said it was his fault. The next thing I know though, this perfume starts wafting through the air. Somebody next to me says it smells like jasmine, and all these people start pointing at me. Next thing I know three big guys are beating the shit out of me and dragging me away.

Li

Zhou, I’m sorry.

Zhou

I kept trying to tell them that I was just picking up some perfume.

Li

Didn’t you know it was jasmine?

Zhou

The damn thing is called “Essence of Sensuality.” How the hell do I know what it smells like?!

Li

You never noticed that your wife smells like jasmine?

Zhou

My wife always just smelled like my wife. I never thought about it.

Li

Well, what happened after that?

Zhou

After that I had to convince them that I was just buying perfume for my wife. They called her and confirmed it and my party membership and my employment with the propaganda bureau. Plus, I had to call Wang to vouch for me.

Li

You called Wang?!

Zhou

I wanted to call you, but it made more sense to call him. He’s not in my department, and although he’s a twat, he could at the least vouch for me.

Li

That’s awful, Zhou.

Zhou

Stupid sons of bitches.

posted by ferret at 6:00 pm  

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Li and Zhou: Tanks

Li

Did you hear about what’s going on in Egypt?

Zhou

Yeah, it’s happening all over the Middle East. You know, after Tunisia…

Li

I saw the New York Times.

Zhou

It’s a horrible paper.

Li

I agree. It’s well-written though.

Zhou

Maybe, if you want to practice your English. But it’s so biased…

Li

I saw the pictures of the tanks. All the people marching towards the square-

Zhou

Oh.

Li

Where were you then?

Zhou

六四?[June 4th?]

Li

Yeah.

Zhou

I saw some tanks. I wasn’t in the street.

Li

Me, too.

Zhou

The crowd pulled a soldier out of one. He didn’t last long.

[They sit in silence.]

Li

This business in Egypt.

Zhou

It’s a terrible business.

posted by ferret at 12:04 pm  

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Grave Mistake

Li

Liu.

Zhou

Xiao.

Li

Bo.

Zhou

The man’s a disgrace!

Li

A nuisance!

Zhou

A criminal!

Li

A traitor!

Zhou

The award was a sacrilege!

Li

An insult!

Zhou

A travesty!

Li

A grave error!

Zhou

Li?

Li

What is it?

Zhou

Who is Liu Xiaobo?

posted by ferret at 2:42 am  

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Li and Zhou: Wang Enters…

[Li and Zhou are having noodles outside of the office.]

Li

I’m not sure they had to go to that extreme and take down the maps.

Zhou

Well, what could they do? Go over it with a magic marker?

Li

Why didn’t they just put another map next to it?

Zhou

There can’t be any disputes about it, you know that.

Li

I suppose.

Zhou

Just because you like their food.

Li

I like the naan bread.

Zhou

You like more than that.

Li

I also like the things you mix with the naan bread, but it wouldn’t be the same without the naan bread.

Zhou

Do you see what I’m saying?

Li

Look this has nothing to do with my love for Indian food.

Zhou

So you admit it.

Li

I admit nothing.

[Wang, an internet censor walks over to the table and sees them talking.]

Wang

Hello, friends.

Li

Hi.

Zhou

Hello.

Wang

What are you working on? Something important?

Zhou

Well, we were just discussing -

Wang

I’m cracking down on the newest expression of freedom on the internet. People are chopping off the heads of characters to say “freedom.”

Zhou

Oh, I heard about that. It’s clever.

Wang

Yes, I bet you thought of it, didn’t you?

Zhou

No, of course not.

Wang

Of course not, you’d never be so clever.

Li

We’re just about to leave, Wang. I’m sorry, but we’ll have to have lunch some other time.

Wang

Going to spend the day nitpicking maps of China in newspapers?

Li

Well, yes.

Wang

That’s good. It affects a lot of people, the questions with the outlying provinces.

Li

Yeah-

Wang

I mean, it’s almost as important is internet issues, which affect all of China directly.

Li

I-

[Seeing Li is clearly agitated. Zhou tries to help him out:]

Zhou

Li, there’s that thing we have to do.

Li

Oh, yeah. Goodbye.

Wang

Goodbye!

Zhou

Goodbye!

[Li and Zhou walk out of the noodle shop.]

Li

Prick.

posted by ferret at 12:07 am  

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Li and Zhou: The Club Gets Closed Down

[It's morning. Li is typing at his desk. Zhou arrives, looking very disheveled and somewhat distraught.]

Li

Good morning, Zhou.

Zhou

Good morning.

Li

Did you get the newest previews for Shanghai lately?

Zhou

[glances at his desk]

Yeah, they’re here.

Li

We’ve got to be extra careful. What with the Expo and all…

Zhou

Yeah. We’ve got to be careful.

[They work in silence for a moment, their backs to each other. Li speaks:]

Li

Everything okay?

Zhou

I’m fine. Just fine.

Li

You aren’t still sad about having to give Roy back for the Expo?

Zhou

No. I’m not.

Li

Oh, were you out late for some reason last night?

Zhou

I was up late. I got in a fight with my son.

Li

Oh. I’m sorry. Look, I didn’t mean to pry. It’s really none of my business.

Zhou

No. It’s okay. He was just playing his guitar too much, and we had an argument. I didn’t sleep well because of it.

Li

Oh.

Zhou

The place where he plays his guitar got shut down. For the Expo, I guess. It’s happening all over Shanghai. It’s not surprising it’s happened here, too. Makes sense. We need unity at this time, and they would just get in the way, right?

Li

Right.

[They sit in silence for a moment, fidgeting with their papers, although neither of them is really working. Zhou starts again:]

Zhou

My son was so angry he just kept playing his guitar even when I told him to stop. He was just angry, and I was just angry. We started yelling, and he left the house. I couldn’t sleep until he came back…

Li

How late was he out?

Zhou

It was late. Almost morning.

Li

Oh.

Zhou

The worst part was that I couldn’t stay mad at him.

Li

Well, he’s your son.

Zhou

No, that wasn’t it. It’s because part of me understood.

posted by ferret at 11:58 pm  

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Li and Zhou: China Remembers

[Li and Zhou have just gotten off work. They wait for the bus.]

Li

What did you think of all the black and white newspapers yesterday?

Zhou

They were nice. It was appropriate.

Li

Did you watch the fundraiser?

Zhou

Yeah.

Li

What is it?

Zhou

What?

Li

You look strange.

Zhou

No, it’s just you know that they canceled all public entertainment last night, right?

Li

Yeah. So?

Zhou

Well, my son was supposed to play in his rock band last night. And he didn’t get to play.

Li

Well, that’s good, right? You hate the fact he plays music in a band.

Zhou

I do. It’s a waste of time. I mean, if he wants to play at home, that’s okay.

Li

Okay, so what’s the problem?

Zhou

Well, he was playing at home last night.

Li

I don’t understand.

Zhou

I hate it when he plays at home.

Li

But you just said it was okay.

Zhou

It is okay. Just as long as I’m not there.

Li

Oh. Okay.

Zhou

Anyway, I watched the fundraiser, but he kept making a racket.

Li

So, did you tell him to stop?

Zhou

No, I know he likes to do it, and as long as it’s not too loud I don’t bother him. But it got me thinking…

Li

Really?

Zhou

Yeah. I wished he could have gone out to the bar and played his music so I could be left alone with my wife. And I’m sad for the people of Qinghai, but sometimes I think that maybe it’d be better if we could all mourn in our own way. I mean, you know… like they could open up the bars, but still have the fundraiser, etc. But the people who don’t want to do it, don’t have to. It doesn’t mean that they aren’t mourning in some way, does it?

Li

Are we really having this conversation, Zhou?

Zhou

No. No, we’re not.

posted by ferret at 11:40 pm  

Friday, January 29, 2010

Li and Zhou: Inevitability

[Li walks in on Friday morning and sees Zhou reading the newspaper and smoking a cigarette, sitting on top of Roy, who's transformed into a toilet.]

Li

What the hell?

Zhou

I couldn’t wait. This really is nice porcelain.

Roy

Thanks, Zhou.

Li

You shouldn’t have done it, Zhou. Nobody has gotten back to me yet. We could be in a lot of trouble.

Zhou

Li, I think that this is what they wanted us to do all along.

Li

You mean we weren’t supposed to teach this thing Maoist thought? We were only supposed to shit inside of it?! You think that that’s what the Propaganda Committee had us pegged for when they gave us this walking toilet?!

Zhou

Calm down, Li. Don’t be so crass. It’s comfortable, and very good for the environment. We should consider ourselves lucky that we were the ones who got to try this out first.

Li

Anhui! The peasant life! I long for it a lot these days.

Zhou

You won’t when you feel how great this porcelain feels.

Li

Roy?

Roy

Yes, Li?

Li

How do you… you know… clean yourself?

Roy

I go to the bathroom like everyone else, silly!

Li

So. We shit inside of you, then you go and shit in a normal toilet?

Roy

Yes!

Li

Kill me. Just kill me, Zhou.

posted by ferret at 5:59 pm  

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Li and Zhou: Roy Takes A Bathroom Break

[Li and Zhou continue to try and indoctrinate Roy.]

Li

So, have we cleared up the issue on our official relationship with America?

Roy

Our friends. But-

Li

But?

Roy

Our friends, who are still rooted in the misguided politics of Western imperialism, who we court so we can gain their secrets and build China into the great world power it once was.

Li

Very good. He’s doing well, Zhou. Don’t you think?

Zhou

Very well. I need to go to the bathroom.

Roy

Did you say bathroom?

Zhou

Yeah. Why?

Roy

Are you familiar with the Siu Feng Corporation’s employment of the newest revolution in water saving technologies for your home bathroom?

Zhou

Umm – Li, what the hell is this?

Li

I have no idea.

Zhou

Is this your idea of a joke?

Li

What? Do you think I fed him info about toilets?

[At the sound of the word "toilets," Roy begins to transform.]

Li

Oh my god! What’s going on? Zhou, get the engineers!

[Zhou runs out of the office to get the engineers who have been housed next door. He comes back a minute later, heaving and short of breath.]

Zhou

Li! Those damned German sons of bitches! Li! They just laughed at me, and the one who speaks Chinese said something about shit, and that made them laugh even more. I yelled at them. But it didn’t help. Wait! What the hell?

Li

What?

Zhou

He’s turned into a toilet, Li.

Li

I know, Zhou. I know.

Zhou

Wow. Do we talk to it?

Roy

Gentlemen! I’m happy that you’ve shown an interest in learning more about the latest revolution for this year’s World Expo in Shanghai! Better city, better life! Why don’t you sit down and have a try?

Zhou

Well, actually -

Li

Don’t you dare, Zhou. I’m going to call up somebody, and get to the bottom of this. Until then, you can go shit in some other toilet.

Roy

But let me assure you! Those toilets are not as comfortable, nor as good for the environment -

Li

You can turn off now, Roy.

ENDNOTE:

The following is from Roy’s official website (be sure to check it out for the sweet pictures of toilets!) Unfortunately, the website is all in Chinese, and Roy’s English website isn’t functional as of the date of this post. As a result, I’ve translated the following tidbits from which I created this most recent episode of Li and Zhou. I’d also like to hand it to the Siu Feng Company’s PR guys. A robot who sells revolutionary new bathroom ceramics? You guys have got balls.

我国是水资源高度贫乏的国家之一。虽然我国的水资源总量占世界第6位,与加拿大接近。但由于人口众多,人均占水量不到世界平均水平的1/4,居世界第88位,而且仅为加拿大的2.3%。我国现有300多个城市面临缺水危机,饮水困难的人口达7500万。北京更是严重缺水的城市。早在国家大力推行“节能环保”倡导全社会“节约每一滴水”之初;兆峰企业就已经开始了产品的技术研发,展开了一场卫浴领域的“节水革命”,使乐伊成为目前国内唯一一家所有产品均达到节水标准的卫浴品牌。用实实在在的行动充分响应了国家 “构建节约型社会”的号召,体现了一家企业强烈的社会责任感和历史责任感。

Our country [China] is a country beset by great water shortages. Although our country’s total water supply is the world’s sixth largest (about the same as Canada), due our large population the supply of water per capita is not even a quarter of the world’s average, ranked number 88 in the world, and only 2.3% of Canada’s. Our country currently has over 300 cities facing a water shortage crisis, and poor drinking water effects upwards of 75 million people. Beijing is experiencing severe water shortages. Earlier, our country wholeheartedly implemented the “Save Energy, Protect the Environment” Program which caused the entire nation to begin to “save water one drop at a time.” The Siu Feng Corporation has already begun to develop a product technology and opened up the field for a “Water Saving Revolution” in bathroom equipment through the use of the ROY ceramic technology [乐伊], becoming at present the only bathroom ceramics brand to achieve the water saving standards. This concerted effort to answer answered the our nation’s call to “Establish Conservation Society” embodies our company’s intense sense of responsibility to society and history.

“ROY是谁?”

重大解密是的,他是明星,是卫浴界的新星。他是领袖,是卫浴界的国王。他是一个超前卫的流行名词,是将引领卫浴时尚的名词。“城市让生活更美好,乐伊让卫浴更舒适”。

Who is Roy?

It’s a big secret. He is a bright star, the bathroom world’s newest star. He is a leader, the king of the world’s bathrooms. He is the name of overwhelming fashion in hygiene, the name of the newest head turning fad in bathrooms. “City! Let our lives be better!” ["Better city, better life."] “Roy! Let our bathrooms be comfortable!”

posted by ferret at 11:57 pm  
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